Who’s Responsible for Car Accidents Involving Animals?
Nobody ever wants to have the experience of hitting an animal with their car, but it’s something that happens to many people every year. It’s a particularly common occurrence here in Michigan, with Farmers Insurance ranking Michigan as the state with the 7th highest number of car accidents involving animals during the fall months. But with a large population of deer, accidents involving animals are a significant problem all year long. According to the Michigan State Police, about 50,000 vehicle-deer crashes are reported in Michigan every year, and that doesn’t even include crashes involving other types of animals.
Hitting a deer or another type of wild animal is extremely upsetting and may cause a lot of damage to your vehicle. But unfortunately, since these crashes involve wild animals, you wouldn’t be able to take legal action over the damages they cause. Instead, you may be able to make a claim for damages through your auto insurance. But what about car accidents caused by other types of animals?
In addition to all those deer, Michigan is also home to lots of farms. The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development reports that there are approximately 47,600 farms throughout the state with livestock playing a significant role in Michigan’s economy. The vast majority of deer-car accidents occur on rural two-lane roads, but since those types of roads commonly tend to be close to farm areas, deer aren’t the only type of animal drivers need to watch out for.
Many animals commonly found on farms like cows and sheep can easily cause serious car accidents if they aren’t properly contained. Farmers have a responsibility to make sure that any animals on their farm are securely contained so that they don’t get loose and cause damage to neighboring properties or get into the road where they can cause car crashes. If a farm animal gets loose because of broken fencing, fencing that wasn’t adequate enough to contain the animal, or because farm employees weren’t properly trained on how to contain the animals, you may be able to make a legal claim against the owner of the farm.
Just as farm owners have a duty to make sure the animals they keep are securely contained on their property, domestic pet owners also need to make sure their pets are secured and under control. Keeping a dog on a leash, for example, not only helps prevent dog bites, it also prevents them from darting into the road unexpectedly, protecting both the dog and others in the neighborhood. If a pet runs into the street and causes a car crash because the pet’s owner failed to keep it under control, either by keeping it on a leash or in an adequately fenced-in yard, you may be able to make a claim against the owner or their homeowner’s insurance policy.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving an animal and you think an animal’s owner is liable, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a car accident lawyer who can answer all of your questions and help you understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer experienced in Michigan car accident law. Contact us today for help with your case.